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Medical Student Elective Courses


Faculty in the Department of Laboratory Medicine are responsible for all clinical laboratory analyses at the principal teaching hospitals – University of Washington Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Care System.

This web page is designed to familiarize the medical student with the courses available in Laboratory Medicine. Course descriptions outline what each clerkship rotation covers and how to contact the faculty member who is in charge. Prerequisites are listed, where applicable.

Whether you decide to register for one of our courses or not, we encourage you to seek out our staff, faculty, fellows, and residents for consultation regarding blood smears, Gram stains, or other interesting laboratory data. Our laboratories are staffed 24 hours a day and our resident‑on‑call (206‑598‑6190) is available to help you with urgent problems relating to laboratory care for your patient.

Registration Information

Pre‑registration is done through the Office of Academic Affairs, according to the policies of the School of Medicine and the clerkship calendar. Their office number is 206‑543‑5560.

Two weeks before the beginning of a quarter, all registered students will be contacted via e‑mail concerning their assignment preferences (LabM 680 only). Students will be offered a choice of several subsections and assignments will be made based on their preferences. Not all subsections are available every quarter. The subsection choices are listed below.

Please feel free to contact Brooke Emrich at or 206-598-6078 if you have any questions about this process.

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Course Descriptions

LabM 685P – Laboratory Case Studies for Clinical Diagnosis

Dr. Nester – University of Washington Medical Center (206-598-8400)

This course is typically held during winter quarter during February of each year.

This course is aimed at preparing senior medical students for the rigors of clinical residency by educating them in the efficient selection and rational interpretation of laboratory tests. A nuclear faculty will employ a combination of lectures and case discussion to help develop cost– and time‑effective strategies for diagnosing and managing common clinical problems. Appropriate test choices, optimum clinical laboratory utilization, and limitations of tests will be emphasized. While the pathophysiological basis of laboratory testing will be emphasized, analytical methodology will be minimized. We will also address how to evaluate new tests, economics of testing, and minimizing equivocal results. Prerequisite: Completion of required third‑year clerkships.

LabM 590P – Research Projects in Laboratory Medicine

Opportunity for laboratory experience on a research problem related to laboratory medicine. Students investigate new areas of potential clinical importance. Highly variable selection of projects includes chemistry, coagulation, genetics, hematology, immunology, microbiology, virology and computer medicine. Research goals are established by instructor in discussion with each student. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

LabM 680P – Clinical Laboratory Testing – Methods and Interpretation

LabM 680 provides third– and fourth‑year medical students an opportunity to develop their diagnostic and patient management skills through the use of the clinical laboratory.

Students may select from a variety of laboratory areas. The two‑week, full‑time modules approach the clinical laboratory from a variety of emphases. Recommended reading material will be introduced by the individual instructor.

Designed for third– and fourth‑year medical students who have completed twelve weeks of clinical clerkships. Confirmation of assignment and instructions will be sent to the student via the e‑mail addresses in the Medical Student Directory prior to the starting date. Final assignment will be made on the basis of student's choices and subsection availability.

The goal of the LABM 680 course is to give students a glimpse of multiple laboratories and the breadth of testing performed in the Laboratory Medicine Department, and to provide maximum exposure to faculty, fellows, and residents. The primary aims of the rotation will be:

  • Introduce students to common activities of the laboratory, including issues that frequently require Laboratorian consultation;
  • Introduce and explore concepts of pre-clinical variables, including labeling/patient identification and patient safety in the clinical lab; and
  • Encourage consultation with Laboratorian/Pathologist colleagues in future clinical practice.

Three options are offered for program content during this clinical rotation:

  • A two-week general 'Tour of Laboratory Medicine'
  • A one week general 'Tour' followed by a week of specialization
  • Two weeks of specialized instruction with a specific laboratory

Below is a sample schedule for the General 'Tour' option (click to enlarge): table of a sample schedule for Laboratory Medicine 680 class

NOTE: All of the following listings are subsections of LabM 680.

Clinical Chemistry, Pediatric

Dr. Dickerson and Dr. Jack – Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center (206‑987‑2103)

This course will introduce the student to the role of the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory in evaluating problems in pediatric patients. Activities will include study of currently used assay techniques in biochemical genetics, therapeutic drug monitoring, endocrinology, acute care monitoring, and general chemistry and interpretation of test results in the pediatric population. The emphasis is on a case study approach to learning. Students are asked to present case studies to the laboratory at the end of their rotation.

Genetic Testing, Adult

Dr. Konnick, Dr. Lockwood, Dr. Pritchard, Dr. Shirts and Dr. Tait (206‑598‑6131)

Provides basic exposure to common molecular tests performed for adults to diagnose genetic disease and predict response to targeted cancer therapies.

Genetic Testing, Pediatric

Dr. Jack and Dr. Tsuchiya – Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center (206‑987‑2103)

This rotation provides a diverse view of testing for genetic disease. The majority of the time will be in two areas:

  1. Cytogenetics with exposure to the standard karyotypic analysis, FISH techniques, comparative genomic hybridization, and spectral karyotypic imaging; and
  2. a daily exposure to biochemical genetics and weekly signout which will allow familiarization with sophisticated analytical chemistry, such as amino acids, organic acid analysis, and lysosomal enzyme determinations.

Emphasis will be on proper utilization of these tests and on correlation with the clinical situation. If taken the first two weeks of the month, there will also be exposure to the hospital‑wide inborn errors of metabolism conference. The students will also be able to participate in the observation of autopsies on fetuses dying in utero with a variety of genetic diseases.


Dr. Cherian, Dr. Edlefsen and Dr. Soma – University of Washington Medical Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (206‑288‑7060)

Students learn the basic morphology of blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes, as well as methods of cell counting and the indications for hematology test selection. Case studies are provided for integration of blood cell morphology and clinical behavior. The use of cytochemical stains, flow cytometry, and molecular techniques in diagnosing leukemia and lymphoma are emphasized, as are techniques used to diagnose red blood cell disorders. An honors grade requires a brief presentation on a hematology‑related topic at the end of the two‑week period.


Dr. Wener and Dr. Morishima – University of Washington Medical Center (206‑598‑6131)

Designed to familiarize the student with the role of diagnostic clinical immunology in clinical medicine. The student may participate in clinical rheumatology rounds, and examples of immunologic disorders will be discussed. Emphasis will be placed on the use of immunologic laboratory data in the diagnosis and management of autoimmune and immunologically mediated diseases. Methods for recognition and identification of abnormal serum proteins and autoantibodies will be introduced. Teaching rounds will supplement study of assigned and optional reading material and computerized tutorials.

Introduction to Lab Computer

Dr. Hoffman and Dr. Shirts – University of Washington Medical Center (206‑598‑6131)

Introduces the student to the use of the computer in medicine, healthcare, and medical education. Students have the opportunity to write programs with authoring software and programming languages and/or explore the use of the Internet, the use of information systems in health care and the clinical laboratory, and issues associated with computerizing the medical record. No prior experience is necessary.

Microbiology and Hematology/Primary Care

Dr. Fang and Dr. Sabath – Harborview Medical Center (206‑598‑6131)

An introduction to Hematology and Microbiology as might be used in a small laboratory. Instruction will include Basic Urinalysis and Quality Control.

Microbiology (1 week): Focus on inoculation of cultures, preparation and interpretation of Gram‑stained smears, and interpretation of bacterial cultures including throat, urine, genital, respiratory, wound, fluid, and blood. Identification methods and antibiotic susceptibility testing will be observed and discussed. Students will attend plate rounds with Dr. Fang and the infectious disease team.

Hematology (1 week): Emphasis on discussion and microscopic identification of hematological cells in normal and disease states using case studies. Additional experience in the performance of tests appropriate to the small laboratory.

Microbiology and Bacteriology

Dr. Cookson – University of Washington Medical Center (206‑598‑6131)

Designed to familiarize the medical student with the services provided by the clinical microbiology laboratory for the management of patients with infectious diseases. The laboratory experience requires daily review of primary Gram stains from fresh clinical material, follow‑up on cultures, and their correlation to the patient's condition. Blood cultures and other important specimens will be demonstrated and discussed daily with the infectious disease staff in the lab (plate rounds). Honors grade requires a special project.

Microbiology and Bacteriology

Dr. Fang – Harborview Medical Center (206‑221‑6770)

Designed to provide the background for rational utilization of a clinical microbiology laboratory. Students gain experience in inoculating cultures and preparing Gram stains and wet mounts. Interpretation of Gram stains, recognition of significant bacterial culture results, and distinguishing normal flora from common pathogens will be emphasized. Students will attend plate rounds with Dr. Fang and the infectious disease team three days per week. Additional time will be spent on an overview of parasitology, mycology, mycobacteriology, and molecular testing methods.

Molecular Virology

Dr. Cook, Dr. Coombs, Dr. Jerome – Molecular Virology Lab, 1616 Eastlake Avenue East (206‑685‑7384)

This course introduces the student to the development and use of molecular tests to detect a wide spectrum of human viral pathogens. The rationale for molecular testing and the interpretation of test results will be reviewed for different viruses. Role of molecular tests in monitoring of antiviral drug therapy, and in assessing resistance to antiviral drugs will be reviewed via tutorials with senior staff and faculty. Emphasis will be placed on the role of these methods in care of HIV patients and in monitoring patients with chronic viral hepatitis. Quality control and quality assessment programs will be described. In this fast‑paced area, development of new approaches and better tests is ongoing. The student will be introduced to evolving as well as current methodology by the research scientists in the lab, Drs. Huang and Kuypers.

Transfusion Medicine

Dr. Gernsheimer, Dr. Hess and Dr. Pagano (206‑598‑6131)

The transfusion medicine rotation is designed to introduce medical students to the laboratory and clinical basics of a hospital‑based transfusion service. Students will learn the meaning of and the indications for key tests (e.g. type and screen, crossmatch, antibody identification), about indications for blood component (RBC, platelet, plasma, cryoprecipitate) therapy, about adverse events related to transfusion, and much more. A typical day involves going over new cases at morning rounds and afternoon didactic and case‑based teaching sessions.

University of Washington School of Medicine Resources

Clinical Grade Review, Challenge, and Appeal Process website

Last updated: 07/03/2019

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